My Workbench

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Black Seas American 44-gun Frigate USS United States

One of the original six frigates authorized by Congress on 27 March 1794, United States was designed by Joshua Humphreys and Captain Thomas Truxton, built in Philadelphia, and launched on 10 May 1797. She was commissioned on Jully 11 with Revolutionary War hero Captain John Barry in command. She was the first of the six frigates launched, beating Constellation by four months, and Constitution by five and a half months. After fitting out she was ordered to sea on July 3, 1798. United States had a long and colorful history. Attached is the link to an excellent report of her long service history.

  • Armament: 32 x 24 pdr long guns, 24 x 42 pounder carronades (War of 1812)
  • Compliment 400 - 600 officers, enlisted men, 50 Marines
  • Displacement 1576 tons
  • Length 175'10", Breadth 44'8", Depth of Hold 21'2"   

The build for Warlord Games' Black Seas USS United States went pretty smoothly with no great issues. After identifying what I felt was missing from the kit and how I wanted to deal with it, everything progressed nicely. I should mention drilling. I drilled more rigging holes on this model than any other I have ever built! The resin used by Warlord is lovely to drill, no shards, no splinters, no bulged rims, just a bit of powder easily blown away. So I went crazy with holes. Another issue, one I mentioned in the last post, was that the quarter boats and davits supplied did not fit the model, and use of them would prevent using any mizzen ratlines. So I created new davits to fit on either side of the mizzen channels and used 3D printed boats rather than the flat bottomed boats that came with the model. There were no stern boat davits either so I made those too and added a Captain's gig to hang from them. I went with regular printer paper for the sales this time and, rather than stain them, I decided the new United States frigate would have crisp new white sails.

Scratch built masts with more realistically scaled tops. I used the oversized spanker boom and gaff that was supplied with the kit.

Tying on the spars. I decided to have full courses rather than the furled course sails.

Shaping the sails after dipping them in a PVA/water/paint mix

Mounting more spars and sails. I have also added the stern boat davits here.

Starting to add some standing rigging

Ratlines mounted and more rigging done. Stacked boats added to the waist and quarter boat davits installed on either side of the mizzen ratlines

All of the boat davits visible here

Nearly done, just the anchors, stern boat, base and flagging to do yet.

The finished Ship

Black Seas American 44-gun Super Frigates

Back at the end of last month, after finishing the American privateer Prince de Neufchatel, I was trying to decide what to work on next. I was in the storeroom looking through my nautical pile of shame (the boxes full of 3D printed ships and 1/1200 lead ships) when the Warlord Games Black Seas boxes caught my eye. Specifically the American Fleet box where I stored the three American super frigates: United States, President, and Constitution. While they are a bit on the over-large bulky side for the 1/700 scale, they are still lovely ship models. I decided that's what I would do next. 

First a little about the kits. The United States and President are included with the Black Seas American Fleet pack from Warlord Games. The Constitution comes alone in it's own box. All three ships hulls are resin and the resin is very nice, not brittle at all, and easily drilled. The sprues are soft metal. This is fine for accessories but horrible for the masts.  These are the instruction sheets that come with each model:

USS United States: Notice that this is the only model that comes with quarter davit mounted boats. Unfortunately they don't fit properly and Mizzen ratlines cannot be fitted with them in place. Also there are no stern davits for the Captain's gig.

USS President: This model includes no stern davits at all either.

USS Constitution: While the stern davits and boat are included, the iconic quarter davits and boats are missing.

The soft metal masts in this photo are typical for all three models. They are completely unusable in my opinion. I first took measurements of each mast section. Then I cut them up, saving only the fighting platforms and the furled sails. One note about the fighting platforms: they are way over large compared to the Warlord generic third and even first rates. I saved them but will probably only use them on perhaps 1/450 scale 3rd rates.

Top to bottom: Constitution, President, United States

I decided to go with the original ochre yellow color used on these frigates throughout the War of 1812, rather than the later white stripe that everyone seems to use, regardless of the period.
Front to back: Constitution, United States, President

I also noted that the stern of United States is nothing even close to the real frigate's stern as depicted in the many paintings of the ship.

The figureheads are nice and very detailed for this scale.

Next step was to draw out the basic sails for all three ships. 

That is it for this post. I chose USS United States for the first one of the three to work on. The next post will be for that ship. Thanks for visiting and comments are always welcome! 

Always welcome.